Victorian Poetry

3352:001 Fall 2001

Tim Morris

Victorian poetry is self-defining: poetry written during the reign of Queen Victoria (1837-1901). But the dates of Victoria's reign also seem to mark out a consistent sensibility in poetry. Victorian poets were heirs to the Romantics, and many of the generalizations about Romantic poetry still apply: distrust of organized religion, skepticism, interest in the occult and the mysterious. Yet where Romantic poets made a leap of faith to assert that the received image of God did not exist, Victorian poets were more likely to have a scientific conviction of God's absence ("Dover Beach" by Matthew Arnold is the great Victorian example). The late-Romantic / early-Victorian poet Thomas Hood is here as a transitional figure; his famous poem "I Remember, I Remember" catches a note of nostalgic regret that carries through English poetry all the way to the 1890s, and is not typical of the great energy of the "High Romantics." While such brooding skepticism informs the work of Tennyson, Arnold, Robert Browning and others, there are also great florid devotional poems by such writers as Christina Rossetti and, late in the period, Gerard Manley Hopkins, and a more mystic, personal religious sense in works by writers like EB Browning, Emily Brontë, and Oscar Wilde. Victorian poets are on balance funnier than the Romantics, and the Victorian period is the great age of whimsy and nonsense, represented in our selection by Edward Lear and CS Calverley.

Some General Sites

The Victorian Web, one of the great hypertext resources

Indiana's Victoria Research Web

Resources by Author

The Victorian Web on Matthew Arnold

The Brontë Sisters Web

EB Browning from the Victorian Web

Robert Browning, also from the Victorian Web

A brief note on Charles Stuart Calverley

A nice Thomas Hood page from Japan

The Hopkins Web

Marco Graziosi's Edward Lear site: despite Tripod pop-up ads, one of the best-designed author pages

Christina Rossetti: a site from, where else, the Victorian Web

A Tennyson Chronology; also, the Victorian Web Tennyson

WWWW (The World-Wide Wilde Web)